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Music Review: Iron Maiden, Delain, Bill Leverty, Loaded, and Chickenfoot

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It's been an interesting week. Two more record companies added me to “digital download” method of review material distribution. This has meant the music cupboard has got quite a bit more full that it has been in the past at this time of year. Fortunately, much of it was rather fun stuff.

DVD review

Iron Maiden: Flight 666

I was never near anywhere that played this in the theater, so I was forced to wait until the band released it on DVD. The great thing about Iron Maiden is they always try to give value for money (and most of the time hit the mark). The DVD is much more than just the film. Included is the entire set from their world tour, recorded in various venues. So you get a total of 215 minutes of Iron Maiden goodness.

It's not terribly hard to realize the movie would be good considering it got a award at SWSX. It’s a great insight into the world of Iron Maiden as they tour the world in their own jet under the tutelage of Rod Smallwood, their manager; their pilot/frontman Bruce Dickinson; and of course, Steve Harris, leader of the band and master bassist. As you would expect, much mirth is created by their inimitable drummer Nicko McBrain. I suspect the film-makers were blessed with many hours of great footage of Nicko, the most gregarious of the lot.

Now, fair or not, Iron Maiden fans will compare the live album portion of the CD with their inimitable and classic release Live after Death ironically recorded on the tour that this trek aped in its content and show. If you buy only one Iron Maiden live CD then it should be LaD, but if you have that classic album and want a new one then this DVD/live CD is worth it. It’s a great release from a great band that is extraordinary and amazing. Recommended, of course, for even the most ardent Maiden fan. Flight 666 is the best the tour movie I have ever seen, probably the best one ever made.

CD Reviews

Delain: April Rain

This is a great band that does a similar brand of gothic, symphonic, female-led metal band to Within Temptation. Then again the keyboardist is a former member of WT. Delain have realised that the market for this sort of music has a pretty high standard and managed to up their game. This is quite an outstanding CD for this genre and Delain have managed to produce an album without a duff track, including the bonus “Come Closer”.

Delain does what Ms. Amy Lee tried to do on her second album but with better song-writing, singing, and presentation. There is all the romantic goth you wouled otherwise expect with none of the po-faced, navel-gazing whinging that can be so prevalent in this sort of release. More important, this band knows how to produce some damn fine symphonic metal that is both catchy and heavy.

I would not want to select any song on here for praise as they all deserve such kudos. I foreswore reviewing this release last week, just so I had an excuse to listen to it some more on heavy rotation. So, I guess I am saying that if you don’t mind your vocals coming out of a female mouth instead of a male one most of the time, then this is release you should seek out. Yup, it's that good. The bar in the genre has been raised yet again.

Bill Leverty Deep South

This one arrived with little fan-fare or bumf, which I suppose from the content of the CD is apt. Bill Leverty, is an integral part of the success of the  hard rock band Firehouse, who you would know thanks to their hit "Love of a Lifetime", in case you don’t recognize the name. He has released a collection of songs from the south, hence the name, and pays tribute to the songs that inspired all those southern rockers we know and love.

This is roots music without the pretentiousness and with a clear sense of fun. The album just exudes a bloke having a hell of a lot of fun doing something he loves. It's effortless and infectious, his cover of “Hit the Road Jack” inspires an unconscious sing-along, at least in this household. The dry blues of tracks like “Run On” just scream care and attention. Most of the songs are over 100 years old, but still sound fresh as the day their were written.

If you are interested in old songs done well then I would check this out. Leverty has got nothing to prove, but lets his guitar and voice show us all that he really does appreciate the Southern music heritage.

Loaded: Sick

Duff McCagan’s musical side gig, or is that full time gig now that Velvet Revolver are no more or on “hiatus”, and break from writing investment column for Playboy. Loaded, especially with the release of their album “Dark Days”, were touted as a return to the bassist’s “punk roots”. Visions of Guns n’ Roses god-awful punk-covers album “Spaghetti Incident” were prematured. Duff has toured Loaded on and off since he left GnR. Loaded seemed to get the most traction in the UK.

This new release feels more a “proper” one being entirely original material written for this album rather than re-hashes like on DD. Sick does not strike anyone as punk in the slightest sense, well no more so that Phil Collen’s outfit Manraze. This is merely good pared down heavy rock done with lots of attitude and gravitas. It contrasts greatly with GnR and even Velvet Revolver, showing Duff doing music at its base level.

Raucous catchy songs abound from the title track through to the end. This is a much better release than the original Loaded effort and far better than say the last VR album. Good seat of yer pants hard rock can be just what the doctor ordered sometimes. Loaded fills that prescription.

Chickenfoot: Chickenfoot

A supergroup on the scale of Damn Yankees back in the 80s, this lot is just dripping with talent. Guitar teacher/maestro/guru Joe Satriani on guitar, Sammy Hagar on vocals, Chad Smith (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) on the skins, and Michael Anthony of Van Halen on bass. It’s a formula that has in the past either failed miserably or created something pretty damn amazing. You will be relieved to know that the only thing that is daft about this lot are their name.

By far the most impressive thing any of them has been involved with in many a moon, they seem to have taken their talents and merged into some very special indeed. The Hagar/Anthony duo on vocals reminds us of the glory days of Van Hagar. There is still incendiary guitars on here but they are of the Sachmo variety as opposed to the Eddie variety. There is less an LA feel to this stuff and something more gritty Tex/Mex rock. I think ZZ Top shows up in the sound.

Songs inspired by Sammy’s Cabo Wabo lifestyle abound. Considering this project started due to a tequila fuelled jam at this the Red Rocker’s personal bar in Mexico it's pretty impressive; a great album any way you slice it and one that works with summer weather.

Of course, what most people are really itching for is to see this lot live.

Woah, that is rare, a complete column with not one turkey in the bunch. This is proving a great summer for those in love with their rock. Something for every rocker’s taste.

Check out whomever you can live and stay safe.

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About Marty Dodge